Thursday, June 4, 2009
Revelation Part 12: Who is the Prostitute?
Chapters 17 and 18 introduce a "woman sitting on a scarlet beast." (17:3) This woman is referred to as "the great prostitute" (17:1) because the kings of the earth commit adultery with her.
Really? All of the kings??
Well, that's confusing--and very disgusting to think about--until you understand that John is not talking about a human woman. He's talking about a city. Babylon, to be specific.
How can that be? The ancient city of Babylon was deserted and faded away a couple of thousand-plus years ago. It's ruins can be found approx. 60 miles south of present-day Baghdad, Iraq. It is where the biblical story of the Tower of Babel takes place. I understand that Saddam Hussein was trying to rebuild Babylon to it's former glory.
Is this the city that John is referring to?
I don't think so. Here's my theory.
I think the city John is referring to is a modern-day Babylon. A city that is known for her "adultery" against God and His Son. Some of the clues we find are:
"This title is written on her forehead: Mystery, Babylon the Great, The Mother of Prostitutes and of the Abominations of the Earth." (17:5)
"I [John] saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus." (17:6)
And finally, the angel John is talking to says this: "The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth." (17:18)
John also uses the term "great city" back in 11:8 when he tells about the two witnesses who are killed by the beast. "Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified."
Clearly that "great city" is Jerusalem.
So, is the woman and prostitute of Revelation 17 and 18 Jerusalem?
It could very well be. I Googled "Babylon Revelation" and got a lot of web sites with interesting opinions. You can check them out for yourself.
Other people think the United States is the woman. Some say it's Washington DC or New York City. Or maybe it's Europe. Or Baghdad. But in my mind none of those fit the description and clues John gives us.
But one thing is certain. This "great city" is going to be destroyed.
"Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said, 'With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again.'" (18:21)
And though I haven't gotten there in this study yet--I will in just a couple days!-- Revelation 21 tells us there will be a New Jerusalem. So it makes sense that the old, adulterous city would be destroyed first.